Foster’s Scottish Oddities might not be on your reading list or your Christmas present list, but it does have some interesting stories. There is one about a stoat and an eagle.
The story goes that a gamekeeper and his friend were out walking in Cape Wrath in Sutherland, just a few days into January 1931. Their walk was magnificently interrupted by a golden eagle swooping down and picking up a stoat in its talons. That must have been quite an impressive sight.
What happened next was probably unexpected. The eagle began to lose altitude. It fell rapidly in a kind of cork screw motion to the ground. The gamekeeper and his friend ran to investigate. The great bird was dead. Then, from beneath its regal carcase, the stoat emerged, completely unscathed. Further investigation revealed that the stoat had bitten into the eagle’s neck, with fatal effect.
It goes against the laws of nature – and perhaps natural justice – that a creature as beautiful and powerful as a golden eagle should perish from the bite of a stoat. In this case that is exactly what happened. And it happened because the eagle picked up something that possibly seemed insignificant and manageable, yet proved to be deadly.
Paul comments in 2 Corinthians 2 that he has forgiven someone in the church at Corinth, and that the Corinthians should too, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes (vv.10-11).
Unforgiveness gives Satan a tactical advantage in spiritual conflict. He knows that the presence of unforgiveness in our lives closes us down to living in God’s forgiveness (Matthew 6.15, 18.32-35).
The knock on effect of unforgiveness is that it messes up the effectiveness of our prayer lives. Jesus outlines the impact of unforgiveness on our prayers in Matthew 11.22-26:
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (v.26).
Mountain moving faith can be undermined by a mole of unforgiveness.
So how do we live in forgiveness?
Firstly, check your heart.
“If you hold anything against anyone”. Sometimes we need to check our hearts with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, remember you are a child of grace.
In Ephesians 4.32 Paul says:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Just. As. In Christ. God. Forgave. You.
We forgive because we are forgiven.
Thirdly, choose to forgive.
Forgiveness is a decision not an emotion. That’s why Jesus and the apostles were able to command forgiveness. Many people fail to forgive because they think forgiveness is an emotion.
Finally, don’t let changing emotions undermine your decision.
Emotions can change like the weather. If you were on an important journey, you would not allow the weather to change your destination. Make the freedom of forgiveness your desired destination and don’t let the changing weather of your emotions cause you to abandon that journey.
You were called to fly. How tragic it would be if you allowed something trivial that you picked up along the way to cause you to become grounded. Ditch the stoat of unforgiveness and keep flying high.